Sunday, July 11, 2010

So we live like a video


It is not news that Sub-Saharan Africa is in an endemic of HIV. However, I am still shocked of how prevalent it is here everyday. When you review medical charts, almost every other one belongs to a HIV positive patient. Luckily, most of them are on ART, and HIV is moving towards like other chronic disease. The stigma has largely diminished. People go to ART clinic regularly to get their treatments. A vigrous big public campaign has been put in place to urge people to test for HIV, called VCT (voluntary consulting and testing). In schools and side of the roads, you’ll see billboards with signs like “Protect you and your family. Get tested for HIV”.

Today I had my very first suturing experience on an HIV positive patient. He was suspected to have kaposi’ sarcoma, an indication of stage IV HIV, and we wanted to biopsy his skin to test if he has it. I wore double glove and sutured the-cutaeously on the skin cut after the biopsy was done. Interestingly, I was so focused on the suture that I totally forgot it was a HIV positive patient.

I saw a live snake today on the path in front of my house! It was light green color, quite big and long. The snake was slithering along the side of the path near the grass edge. At one point, it crossed the path to the other side, and the entire length of the snake is longer than the width of the path. It was pretty fascinating to watch, at a distance of course. I am glad that it is dry season and winter here now, so snake is relatively scarce. I heard that in rainy season like November, there were snakes and rats everywhere. Rats even came into the houses.

Ants have been a major problem though. Whenever I leave a small piece of bread crumb on the counter, within minutes there will be a big ant troop moving. The toaster in the kitchen is their favorite site. I was pretty apprehensive about this at first, but now I have learned to live with them.

This afternoon at the OPD (Out-Patient Department) I was with another Dutch medical student seeing patients. Suddenly we all heard it was getting rowdy outside. We didn’t pay attention at first, but then the noise get louder and louder, so we stepped out to see what happened. I haven’t seen such a gathering for a long time. Men, women, children, women with babies, were all standing around, talking and pointing at something. The center of the attention was a man in red shirt at a distance. He appeared pretty angry and was throwing stones at one of the hospital building window. A bit distance away, an old woman was crying. We were puzzled by what happened. A nurse told us that the man was angry and bit that woman, and now he was throwing stones. A few men went over to catch him, and people said that he would be put into the cellar. The so called cellar is a small room in the Macha police station, which is right in the next to the hospital. It is a little brick house with merely three rooms, the “cell”, the “inquires office”, and “the office in charge”. A few moments later, the entire crowd was running and yelling, without knowing what’s going on, I just saw people laughing and screaming, as if they are all going to the same direction trying to catch that person or that person is approach to this direction and people are running away. It was such a chaos! People seemed to be enjoying this though because they were all out and looked very happy even when they were running and screaming. Eventually we had to lock the office door to not let it interferes with work.

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